It was a number of years ago the last time I sat in this spot in a shady municipal park in Wyoming, Pennsylvania, with an ancient laptop on which I wrote a post for this blog. Me, whose idea of the great outdoors is sitting on my deck with a cold drink, “on the road” rather than working on my desktop PC right beside the air conditioner, and taking to the laborious task of blogging where there are noises and squirrels and other outdoorsy kinds of things all around me! No, I don’t get it either, in case you were wondering.
X marks the spot where I composed this post.
On my way here, well, to be perfectly honest, I wasn't really on my way here but to a farther, more remote state park when I realized that this, familiar, old place was on the way, I was thinking that an apt title for this post might be, “We have the technology,” from The Six Million Dollar Man. What was going through my mind was that having all the fun stuff at our fingertips doesn't necessarily make using it as practical or desirable as one might have imagined before he possessed it. Sort of like the “romantic” notion of being an engineer on a freight train rolling through a quiet, full moon lit country setting in the autumn while sipping on a mug of hot chocolate from his Thermos would probably be a lot less wonderful than it might sound on paper. Okay, that’s a really poor analogy, but the point my brain is trying to express is that our imaginings are often much better than their subsequent fulfillments.
Those years back when I sat at this same table, I’d just bought a used, no bells, no whistles IBM Thinkpad because I thought that blogging “in nature” instead of in my chair that knows my butt so well would be so “cool” to do. That word “cool” can be replaced with a number of words that also miss the mark in trying to tell you what I was expecting when I came outdoors to write, but I know with much disappointment, that the experience was far less than I’d imagined it might be.
The Thinkpad didn't have built in Wifi, so when I first came out to write I figured I’d key my blog entry into Word and then paste it into the Blogger interface when I got back to the house. That didn't work. As soon as I sat down here, under this familiar tree, I felt cut off from the rest of the world working on a computer that wasn't online. Eventually I got a Wifi card for the laptop and figured that that would make the key difference – that I’d be able to write and post remotely without that horrible “cut off” feeling. That didn't work either. It still felt terribly foreign rather than sweet to sit under a tree at a concrete park table and try to write. Something integral was missing, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
So, here I am today trying it again, and somehow it’s different. It doesn't feel weird as it did back then. There aren't any differences that I can name except that now I’m working on my netbook rather than the behemoth IBM, and sipping a Coke Zero, my new favorite, rather than a Diet Pepsi, and I’m soaking up pleasantness by the gallon per minute.
I’m thinking that the difference is that for the moment (maybe the year, even) I’m technologically fulfilled. I am disconnected from the world (i.e., without a working internet connection) as I’m keying this into Word, but the significant difference is that, if I wanted to, I could download the pictures from my camera directly into this computer, fire up the hot spot on my phone, connect the netbook to it, and post this entire article from right here. I just don't happen to want to do that now, but I could if I wanted to. That's the main point!
Now, that might sound dumb, but for my whole life I've “gotten into things” that I could never enjoy fully without some degree of disappointment because there was always more gear or more stuff or more doodads that I wanted and thought I needed. Since my Dad died in October, I've realized starkly just how fortunate I am to have the things I have, and that they, like all things of this world, are fleeting, and passing and for my liking but not my dependence.
The sun is shining brightly, but I’m in the shade of majestic maple tree. There is a delightfully warm breeze stirring the leaves and grass, and there are unseen birds chirping like old ladies talking over the hedges while they hang their wash out on the clothesline on a Monday morning. A steady stream of traffic goes by to my left and there are orange hard hat guys working on something nearby. God's in His heaven and all's right with the world. Well, with my world at least for the time being.
I just might do this more often!